Notes Riley on the Rise Baby Talk

By Associated PressJanuary 23, 2007, 5:00 pm
2007 Buick InvitationalSAN DIEGO -- The Buick Invitational feels like home for Chris Riley. He grew up playing Torrey Pines, and he was runner-up to John Daly three years ago when his 3-foot putt in a playoff rimmed out of the cup.
 
But he came home this week by invitation only.
 
Riley is playing this week on a sponsor's exemption, the result of being in a free fall since playing in the 2004 Ryder Cup. He was 184th on the money list in 2005, but kept his card because of a now-extinct exemption for members of the last Ryder Cup team. He finished 150th on the money list last year and lost his full exemption.
 
It got worse. Riley went to Q-school and opened with an 83 on a blustery day. He withdrew two days later.
 
'I hit rock bottom,' Riley said Tuesday. 'I walked back out onto the range and they were like, 'Geez, this guy played on the Ryder Cup and now he's shooting 83 at Q-school.' It shows you what the game is all about.'
 
Riley has struggled to balance life on the PGA TOUR with two young daughters, and there is a lingering notion that his Ryder Cup experience -- where he told captain Hal Sutton he was tired after winning a fourball match with Tiger Woods -- also took a toll.
 
Whatever the case, he says his hunger has returned.
 
'My confidence has been shaken from not playing well the last couple of years,' he said. 'It's not like I can't play like I used to. I've got to chip and putt my butt off to compete out here; that's a given. I've got to make a couple of 30-footers, and I was doing that for quite a while. Now they seem to just bend over the edges.'
 
Riley is one of the best putters on TOUR, and he has given up trying to become a big hitter. He hit the gym religiously during the offseason, but says it isn't helping him add distance off the tee.
 
'I've come to the conclusion that I'm never going to hit it like Charley Hoffman or Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson,' he said. 'But if I can get my putter going, I can compete a little bit.'
 
The biggest concern now is getting into tournaments.
 
This is the only sponsor's exemption he has received on the West Coast, and he hopes to get into Pebble Beach and Mexico, the new tournament opposite the Accenture Match Play Championship. He thinks he can get into a dozen tournaments, and he plans to play eight or nine times on the Nationwide Tour.
 
'I'm going to play like it's my last tournament,' he said. 'I've got maybe a dozen shots this year, and if I don't do it, back to Q-school.'
 
TAMPA SPONSOR
Tampa Bay's search for a title sponsor could be over.
 
Golfweek magazine reported its web site Tuesday that PODS, a moving and storage company based in nearby Clearwater, Fla., is close to signing a six-year deal to become the title sponsor. The tournament moved from a week before the TOUR Championship to part of the Florida swing, played March 8-11 at Innisbrook.
 
Peter Warhurst, the president, CEO and founder of PODS, told the magazine that the tour has been 'very creative in trying to figure out a way to help us become a sponsor.'
 
'And I think we're close,' he said. 'To be honest with you, I haven't heard if we have crossed all the T's and dotted all the I's, but I give it a 95 percent chance that we're going to sign up for a six-year sponsorship.'
 
PLAYER ADVISOR
Paul Azinger has been one of the sharpest critics of PGA TOUR policy, from title sponsorship to player input over the new FedExCup. Now, the Ryder Cup captain will have a small say in matters.
 
His peers elected Azinger to the 16-member Player Advisory Council, which reports to the main policy board. Next up is an election to see who will be chairman of the PAC, and that player eventually is appointed to the policy board. But that's one election he won't win, because Azinger is taking his name out of consideration.
 
'I'm more interested in making history than making policy,' he said.
 
BABY TALK
Henrik Stenson and Tiger Woods played together two straight rounds at the Target World Challenge last month, and while both were fathers-to-be for the first time, they either didn't know or weren't telling.
 
Woods disclosed at the end of December that his child is due this summer. Stenson told reporters at the Qatar Masters that his wife is expecting about the same time.
 
'I asked him when we were playing together at the Target if they were looking to have kids and he said no,' Stenson said. 'And I knew that we were pregnant and I didn't say anything. So neither one said anything. And then it came out a couple of weeks later.'
 
AMES' HOBBY
Stephen Ames had almost three months off with a bad back, but he wasn't getting cabin fever in Calgary.
 
He spent a lot of time in restaurants -- his restaurants.
 
Ames was looking for something to do outside golf and enjoys good food -- 'Don't you?' he said -- and wound up buying two restaurants in the Calgary area. One is a steakhouse called 'Vintage' that he opened three years ago, and he recently opened 'Rustic Grille.' The first one paid itself off in three years.
 
Making money in the food industry can be tough, but Ames said he made sure his manager was financially involved to the restaurant. Ames handles the promotion because everyone knows him in Calgary.
 
'You get to socialize, have a couple of drinks with friends, stuff like that,' he said. 'You learn a lot, the good wines, so when you go out you know which wines to pick. It's just a learning experience in life, I guess.'
 
DIVOTS
Former Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman will skip the Wachovia Championship to play in the Italian Open. The Players Championship is the following week. ... Roberta Bolduc of Longmeadow, Mass., has been appointed chair of the USGA's Women's Committee. ... Qualifying for the British Open already is under way. Douglas McGuigan of Scotland and Desvonde Botes of South Africa were among four who made it through international final qualifying in Africa last week. ... Hale Irwin has agreed to be the honorary chairman for the 2008 U.S. Senior Open at The Broadmoor in Colorado. Irwin, a three-time U.S. Open champion, played college football at Colorado.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
More world ranking points were available last week at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship on the European Tour than the Bob Hope Classic on the PGA TOUR.
 
FINAL WORD
'Golf has become like other sports. If you're small, you had better be quick. If you're big and slow, there will always be a place for you. And if you're big and fast, you can be a superstar.' -- Hank Haney.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Buick Invitational
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
     
    Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

    Getty Images

    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

    Getty Images

    Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

    Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

    ''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

    It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    ''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

    Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

    ''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

    After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

    ''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

    He's making his first start in the event.

    ''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

    Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

    ''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

    Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

    ''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

    The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

    ''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

    Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

    ''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

    Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

    John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

    Getty Images

    Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

    He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

    How rare is his missing the cut there?

    The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

    The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

    Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

    Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.